Review by Ashlynn Fuhrmann, Harrison High School Critic Team
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Powerful vocals, energetic dancing, and witty fun! Why, this could only be Roger Bacon High School's production of Newsies.
New York City, 1899. Jack Kelly and his gang of newsboys are trying their best to survive in this city, working as they can by selling newspapers. However, when Pullitzer ups the price of papers, they go on strike for fair rights in the workplace. And with help from Katherine Plumber,they defeat all odds and earn what they rightfully deserve. Opening on Broadway in 2012 and winning two Tony awards for best choreography and best score, this electrifying musical has become a well beloved classic for families of all ages.
Roger Bacon High School's production of Newsies brilliantly executed the witty jokes and difficult vocals of this show. The intricate costumes and detailed set projections, as well as the cast's natural chemistry led to a fun-filled and enjoyable production.
Justin Dinh, playing Jack Kelly perfectly showed the raw emotions and pure vocals of Jack in songs such as "Sante Fe." Dinh perfectly exhibited both the tough and raw aspects of Jack's character with his excellent vocal tone and emotional complexity. And alongside Jack through it all was reporter Katherine Plumber, played by Arielle Grant. Grant skillfully took on Katherine's sarcastic character as she falls in love with Jack as the show progresses. However, she never let that shadow the strong person that Katherine is at heart. The two also had terrific on-stage chemistry as they went from friends to lovers as the show continues.
And who would Jack be without his best friend Crutchie (Zoe Nienaber), and Miss Medda Larkin (Nia Buchannon). Nienaber showed her musical talents through both her majestic vocal tone and her acoustic guitar for Crutchie's song, "Letter from the Refuge,"brilliantly showcasing Crutchie's pain and suffering during this time. In addition, Buchannon's vocals were absolutely gorgeous and left everyone breathless for the rest of the performance.
Further enhancing this breath-taking show were Raelynn Chesher, Cassie Corzine, Agatha Horstman, and Lauren Jones' time-accurate costumes. Diligently made, the costumes helped elevate the show to a whole new level as they really brought the characters to life. Anthony Mechley, Xavier Hecker, Anna Kenny,and Alex Navarro's magnificent lighting also brought the intimate and impactful emotions of the show to reality with their color choices throughout the scenes.
This empowering show is a tough one to tackle with its challenging choreography and energetic needs, but Roger Bacon High School excellently seized the opportunity, leading to a fantastic production.
Review by Catherine Foster, Mercy McAuley High School Critic Team
Get your papers here! Today's headline: Roger Bacon's production of Disney's Newsies fills the stage with musical mayhem and fun!
Newsies takes place in 1899 New York and is inspired by the historical event of the Newsboys Strike. In the musical, a ragtag group of newsies led by the streetwise Jack Kelly go on strike when the owner of the newspaper, Mr. Pulitzer, decides to charge them more for the papers they sell for a living. Aided by his new friend Davey, his best friend Crutchie, and reporter Katherine, Jack intends to show the world the Newsies<cq> won't be pushed around any longer.
Justin Dinh showed vocal talent and depth of emotion while playing Jack Kelly. He skillfully acted a variety of sentiments throughout the show, most notably his fiery determination in "The World Will Know" and his heartbroken defeat after Crutchie got arrested in the act one closer "Santa Fe." Zoe Neinaber's Crutchie was endearing and bursting with personality. Her physicality in the role was amazing as she kept a realistic-looking limp going throughout the entire show. Her rendition of "Letter from the Refuge," sung with no accompaniment but her own guitar playing, was poignant and conversational. Connor Curtin's commitment and believability in playing his menacing character Pulitzer brought out the conflict of the show in a way that was entertaining and suspenseful.
Roger Bacon'sNewsie ensemble performed admirably in an abundance of exciting dance numbers and playful scenes throughout the show. For the most part, members of the ensemble were engaged and passionate, expressing the story through strong facial expressions and gestures. They had good ensemble chemistry, believably illustrating the brotherly bonds the Newsies share. A noteworthy Newsie was Ariel Swanson, who helped to keep the production going by covering lines and solos of various cast members who were unable to perform.
Several tech elements helped to make this show entertaining. Eli Dalessandro, Will Davis, Kylie Roberts, and Ellie Tennant creatively decorated the lobby for this show with trolley signs and posters about the newspaper strike, giving it the feel of a trolly station at the time Newsies is set. Maria Buerger, Melissa Howard, and Ellie Phelps created makeup looks for the Newsies that looked natural and gave them a dirty, roughed-up appearance that helped the audience understand the hard lives they lived out on the streets. Anthony Mechley, Xavier Hecker, Anna Kenny, and Alex Narvarro created some interesting and unique moments with the lights, such as roving yellow and purple spotlights during a fight to add to the chaotic atmosphere.
All in all, Roger Bacon's Newsies was a great production. Talented actors, a vivacious ensemble, and engaging tech elements all contributed to the success of the show. Roger Bacon's cast and crew seized the day and made the most of this show!
Review by Tierney Rasmussen, Mariemont High School Critic Team
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Roger Bacon High School stunned with their riveting production of Newsies! The show, written by the renowned Alan Menken, is no small feat, and Roger Bacon presented an incredible production. Every student's hard work and dedication made them front-page news.
Newsies follows the plight of Jack Kelly and the other newsboys (newsies) of Manhattan. When newspaper tycoon Joseph Pulitzer raises the price of papers, the newsies form a union and protest against the new price. Though they face many obstacles, the newsies are bonded through their struggles and realize the power of standing united.
Justin Dinh was astonishing as Jack Kelly. Dinh proved he was a true triple threat through his lively dance moves, emotional acting, and stunning vocals. The culmination of the first act, "Santa Fe" is a behemoth of a number and is widely regarded as one of the most challenging songs in the musical theater canon. Dinh not only performed the song expertly but did so with the grace and ease of a professional.
Surrounding Dinh, was a fabulous supporting cast of talented performers. A stand-out, Zoe Nienaber was tremendous as Crutchie. Accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, Nienaber's performance of "Letter from The Refuge" was haunting and rife with raw emotion. Another talented performer, dance captain Olivia Radecki was effervescent in every scene. Radecki's phenomenal technique and infectious energy made her a headliner.
No show can function without its crew and Newsies was certainly no exception. The props crew, led by Makalyn Breuer, impressively created stacks upon stacks of custom newspapers featuring lines from the show and photos of the cast. Speaking of cast photos, the publicity crew, commanded by Kylie Roberts went above and beyond, scheduling a photo shoot with the cast in full costume. The photos taken were used on posters that were hung throughout school, as well as in meticulously scheduled Instagram posts.
Dynamic dancing, robust vocals, captivating acting, and devoted crew work culminated in a fantastic production at Roger Bacon High School.
Excerpts From Other Top Reviews
"Joseph Pulitzer's daughter, reporter Katherine Pulitzer, played by Arielle Grant, defies her power-hungry father and helps the newsies share their struggle through writing and change the city and the world all while facilitating a romance with the protagonist. Arielle did a beautiful job, between advocating that women should have a place at the table and portraying a budding relationship with Dinh's character, the defiant Jack Kelly. Their duet, "Something to Believe In" was the epitome of a slow-burn romantic ballad and captured the emotions of audience members young and old; pulling on their heartstrings and inspiring them to 'Seize the Day.'"
-Karlie Smith, Colerain High School Critic Team
"Continuing with the unexpected Roger Bacon individualized their production with great ease which added fun surprises for the audience. Two characters in the cast were guest appearances with one having only done the show once before- meaning the actors onstage had to improvise and make on-the-spot reactions to what their guest stars brought. Improvising is known as a challenge to many, but the effortlessness brought by Roger Bacon made it look easy. Another point of individualization was having Crutcie (Zoe Nienaber) sing the ballad with a guitar rather than just the backing track. This personalized an already emotional ballad and gave Nianaber a perfect outlet to showcase not only her beautiful voice but her killer guitar skills."
-Kaitlyn Naylor, Loveland High School Critic Team
"As for the technical personnel assisting in bringing the story to the stage, it would not be complete without the use of projections as an addition to the set. The special effects and technologies team, Jack Geers and Dylan Cianciolo, chose to use projections which allowed the audience to be more immersed in the scene in comparison to a plain wall."
-Elizabeth O'Neill, Loveland High School Critic Team
"A truly dedicated and passionate cast and crew made this show stand out as truly unique to Roger Bacon High School. Despite unforeseen circumstances which forced them to reschedule their performance and make a number of last-minute changes, the performers and crew pushed through with high spirits, creating a lively atmosphere throughout the show. "
-Eliza Russo, Mercy McAuley Critic Team
"The supporting cast exemplified the performances of the lead actors through their energy and precise characterization of their various characters. From Zoe Nienaber as the loveable and kind Crutchie to Nia Buchannon as the talented and beautiful Miss Medda Larkin to Jordyn Broenner as the hilarious and sarcastic Race, the entire supporting cast put their all into their performances."
-Berkley Dixon, Ursuline Academy Critic Team
"The set crew had a great use of wheels on 2 sets of stairs and on Pulitzer's desk. The rolling set opened up the stage, and while it would change, the setting was always recognizable. And the attention to detail of the dirt -- from the makeup crew -- on the Newsies faces had a great contrast to the cleanliness and prestigiousness of Pulitzer."
-Syeirra Todaro, Mason High School Critic Team
"In essence, the efforts brought on by Roger Bacon significantly enhance the immersion and experience of Newsies. That despite all setbacks, the marvelous tenacity that the cast and crew exude far exceeds the criteria for going above and beyond in creating a wonderful experience."
-Eric Reigelsperger, Mason High School Critic Team